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Anne Threlkeld

Serving an Ace for Ole Miss Tennis

By | Donor Support, Facility Upgrades

Brandts Make Major Gift to New Indoor Facility

By Tina Hahn

Fans of Ole Miss Tennis can leave their winter coats at home come January as the Rebels begin competing in a new $11 million indoor facility, which has received a major boost from longtime tennis enthusiasts.

A $300,000 gift from Louis and Lucia Brandt of Houston, Texas, helped jump-start construction on the 52,000-square-foot, two-story building. Located southeast of the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletic Performance Center on Manning Way, the facility will feature six indoor tennis courts for practice and competition, grandstand bleacher seating for 300 spectators, fan amenities and a spacious lobby.

Former Ole Miss tennis team member and mathematics alumnus Louis Brandt — an Oxford native who practically grew up on campus with his dad, an economics professor — has enjoyed playing tennis for more than seven decades. His previous support of the tennis programs include resources for the Gillom Center, which had indoor courts before the renovation, and the varsity tennis pavilion on Magnolia Drive.

“Athletics has always been part of my life,” Brandt said. “Through college athletics, people are brought back to campus and are able to stay connected. That’s extremely important to a university. The location of the new center is perfect, and the project will be an outstanding addition among Southeastern Conference facilities.

“I love the sport of tennis because it is one you can play all of your life.  It is both physically and mentally challenging, tennis equipment is inexpensive, and there are a lot of courts available, especially in Oxford. In fact, since 2014, there is even a new club in town. I partnered with two others to create The Goose Creek Club, a family-oriented tennis, fitness and swim club offering the only clay courts between Memphis and Jackson.“

Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, spoke of Brandt’s “significant, far-reaching impact” on building Ole Miss tennis programs to the level they enjoy today. “The remarkable achievements for which our tennis programs are now known have been possible because of the generosity of the Brandts and a few other dedicated alumni who understand the investments needed to succeed in our highly-competitive conference,” he said. “This new gift from the Brandts demonstrates a deep commitment to seeing Ole Miss tennis programs thrive in the SEC and on the national stage. We are extremely grateful for their support.”

Tennis has come a long way since Brandt began playing at 12 years of age, with wooden rackets. “There was no tennis instruction in Oxford so my friends and I learned by watching the Ole Miss team members who primarily came from towns where they had the luxury of tennis instruction during high school. “When I was around 14, I taught myself to string rackets. I purchased equipment from the Sears Roebuck catalog and, after destroying several rackets, became brave enough to put up a sign at the university advertising my services. People responded, and I began to string rackets for college students and eventually for some members of the tennis team.”

Brandt’s love of tennis and his love of Ole Miss combined to inspire his and Lucia’s support of the men’s and women’s programs, both financially and as enthusiastic fans. Brandt says he is “very proud” of the tennis programs, giving former longtime head coach Billy Chadwick the credit for setting a high bar for team success. “His successors are maintaining that level of accomplishment.”

Women’s tennis head coach Mark Beyers expressed his appreciation for the couple’s generosity. “It is great to see the Brandts at more home matches now that they are spending additional time in Oxford. Louis has been so wonderful to Ole Miss and specifically to Ole Miss tennis. His support has given our student-athletes an opportunity to practice and compete in some of the best facilities in the country,” Beyers said.

Men’s head coach Toby Hansson agreed, saying, “Louis Brandt is a lifelong supporter of our Ole Miss tennis programs. His commitment has enabled the Rebels to boast one of the nation’s premier indoor tennis facilities. His and Lucia’s dedication to our new facility will help ensure that our student-athletes can continue to successfully train and compete at the highest level.

“We are humbled by his contributions, and both the men’s and women’s programs will feel the impact of his generosity for years to come.”

During his college years, Brandt played varsity tennis along with Phil Berry, Bill Watson, Buddy Williamson and Morris Denton. Brandt’s Ole Miss doubles partner, Denton, is back as an Oxford resident now that he has retired, enabling the two to continue playing tennis together. Brandt began making gifts to the tennis programs in 1989, and later in 2001, began a 10-year program of providing added compensation for tennis coaches, helping bring their salaries in line with others in the SEC.

The Brandts’ philanthropic gifts permeate every area of Louis’ alma mater; a University of Texas (UT) alumna, Lucia has also become a faithful Ole Miss supporter. While serving as the chair of the University Foundation, Louis played a pivotal role in the foundation’s current facilities when he provided the funds in 1992 to purchase the Memory House from the John Falkner family. After the home underwent extensive renovations, it was renamed Brandt Memory House in his honor in 1995. The facilities are utilized daily for foundation business, university meetings, donor events and university-wide activities.

Louis Brandt’s business career has been centered in Texas, where he founded and later sold The Brandt Company, which is now a division of a New York Stock Exchange company. He also holds an engineering degree from UT.

For more information about the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics, contact Keith Carter at jkcarter@olemiss.edu, call 662-915-7159 or visit https://givetoathletics.com/forward-together/.

Peaces Create Graduate Scholarship

By | Donor Support

Gift will help student-athletes who attend professional schools

By Tina Hahn

University of Mississippi student Rush Peace had it all: a well-rounded college experience that combined rich academic experiences with the thrill of playing baseball on scholarship under legendary Coach Tom Swayze. And then it was on to dentistry school and a rewarding career.

Peace and his wife, Judy, of Macon, Georgia, want to support other Ole Miss student-athletes who graduate and choose to continue studies at UM’s schools of Dentistry, Medicine or Law. Their blended gift of $60,000 — an outright gift combined with a planned estate gift — has funded the new Dr. Rush Abbott and Julia Robertson Peace Graduate Scholarship Endowment. “The Peaces have expressed their deep commitment to expanding educational opportunities for Ole Miss students through this unique scholarship endowment,” said Noel Wilkin, UM interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “We encourage donors to match their passions and interests with needs at our university for a truly meaningful gift experience. Our appreciation goes to Rush and Judy for their thoughtful, generous gift that will ultimately help produce stellar dentists, physicians, lawyers and leaders who make outstanding contributions to society.”

Rush Peace’s mother, the late Dorothea Abbott Peace, was an Ole Miss and Chi Omega alumna, and the Peace family lived in West Point, Mississippi. When it came time for her son to attend college, she pointed out that the dentists and physicians in their family all received their strong foundations at Ole Miss. He agreed. After going on to earn his dental degree and post-graduate training, he enjoyed a 40-year career in prosthetic and pediatric dentistry. He was a pioneer in the Southeast in complete dentistry performed in hospital operating rooms. He retired from his prosthetic practice and then devoted the past decade to the treatment of medically complex pediatric and developmentally challenged patients. Upon retirement last year, it was determined he had completed more than 11,000 cases in Georgia hospital operating rooms.

“We are truly thankful for the generosity of Rush and Judy Peace. This support will allow graduating student-athletes to pursue higher levels of education and become pillars in society. The Peaces exemplify what the Ole Miss family is all about — helping others,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation.

Rush and Judy Peace return to the Oxford campus for events several times a year and share the inspiration behind their gift. “Ole Miss is hallowed ground and very special to my heart,” said Rush Peace. “Judy and I are extremely proud of what’s been accomplished here over the years. We enjoy championing Ole Miss in Georgia and are proud that many young people from Georgia come here for their college home.” He continued, “Student-athletes should be prepared for life after college sports; not everyone makes it in professional sports. Hopefully this scholarship will encourage some to consider dental, medical or law school as options. I felt as this scholarship grows it may even be used as a recruitment tool for athletes interested in attending professional school.”

Peace’s affection for his alma mater also stems from exceptional experiences playing sports and building friendships. The four-sport “Best Athlete” from West Point High School found himself practicing one on one with Ole Miss’ well-known and respected Coach Swayze. (Today’s Ole Miss baseball players compete on Swayze Field.) With his knees knocking with nerves, Peace found himself being called in for a talk after delivering a so-so performance fielding balls. “Show me your glove,” Coach Swayze demanded. Peace offered up his well-oiled calfskin that had been part of his playing career since junior high school. “You can’t play with a glove like that!” Coach Swayze left the field, returned with a shovel and buried the glove behind the pitcher’s mound. Decades later when Peace and his wife attended an M Club event, the then-elderly Coach Swayze asked Peace if he ever dug up his glove. Moved that his coach would remember him, Peace also chuckled at the memory of the pitcher’s mound exchange and reported that he was happy to leave a part of himself with his alma mater.

In addition, Peace recalls the first week of his freshman year, when he met fellow student Lee Hartwell Rogers, who, too, was planning a career in medicine. “It was an instant friendship that grew and grew,” Peace said of the now late ophthalmologist of Tupelo, Mississippi. “We studied together, tutored student-athletes and both joined Sigma Chi fraternity. We remained close friends until his death and now continue to travel to Ole Miss with his wife, Merrell Rogers.”

Rush and Judy Peace divide their support between their alma maters. Judy Peace graduated from Mercer University, where the couple also have established a scholarship endowment and support athletics. “My mother wasn’t able to attend college during the Depression,” said Judy Peace, explaining her dedication to help provide educational opportunities. “My mother was well-read but she still felt handicapped because she didn’t have a college education. I have always felt if someone needed extra help to pursue their college dreams, Rush and I should give them that boost.”

The Peace Graduate Scholarship Endowment is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations; mail a check with the name of the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or visit online at www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. To learn more about creating a scholarship fund, individuals can contact Ron Wilson, a development officer for the UM College of Liberal Arts at jrwilso3@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1755.

Bullpen Club Makes Major Gift to Ole Miss Baseball

By | Donor Support, Facility Upgrades

Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club Donates $150,000 Towards Stadium Enhancements

A ritual has emerged within Ole Miss Baseball that compels the Rebels to pump their fists in unison to the beat of the 2007 hit song “Love is Gone.” Now, with a major gift, the sport’s fan base wants to show its players that the love is back.

The Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club (ELBC) has committed $150,000 toward Oxford-University Stadium enhancements primarily designed to benefit the student-athletes.

“As a former player and coach, I’m happy to see these improvements being made on behalf of the players,” said Matt Mossberg, associate athletics director for development and major gifts. “Everyone knows the allure of Swayze Field, and the previous enhancements to the stadium have been crucial to that fan experience. Personally, I am extremely excited to help in the effort to improve the space our talented coaches and student-athletes work in every day.”

Thanks in part to the Bullpen Club’s gift, players will soon enjoy a state-of-the-art locker room and team meeting room, new hitting and pitching facilities, weight room enhancements and more. The gift will also help fund the M-Club Rooftop Plaza, which utilizes space on top of the performance center for additional seating.

“When I arrived here in the summer of 2000, one of the first people I met was Ernie LaBarge, the president of the Bullpen Club. I knew I wanted Ernie and the Bullpen Club to be an integral part of the program,” said Mike Bianco, head baseball coach. “Ernie built the club to over 1,000 members before his passing and then the club was named in his memory. The ELBC has continued to be instrumental in our growth as a program, helping supplement our budget.”

A longtime friend of the university and Rebel fan, LaBarge passed away in March 2008.

Of the Bullpen Club’s gift, $100,000 was donated as part of the $200 million Forward Together campaign, which was launched in 2011 to strengthen Ole Miss Athletics in its continuous commitment to excellence. The additional $50,000 of the gift is committed to support other baseball projects within Ole Miss Athletics.

Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, said these team-related stadium enhancements are possible because of private giving. Previous stadium renovations, such as the addition of the Diamond Club, were made possible by revenue-generating components, such as the sale of premium seats.

“While there are some new premium seats in this renovation, philanthropy is key to this whole project,” Carter said. “We needed people to step up and the Bullpen Club once again did that. I believe our players will be very grateful.”

For more information about the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at jkcarter@olemiss.edu, call 662-915-7159. For more information about the Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club, click here.

Davis’s Love for University Inspires Major Gift

By | Donor Support
By Bill Dabney

Don and Lynne Davis met in anatomy and physiology lab and realized instantly they had great chemistry. Now married for 53 years, the Davises of Meridian, Mississippi, admit they fell in love at first sight. They are grateful to the University of Mississippi for bringing them together and also for making them who they are today: Don, a highly successful otolaryngologist who recently retired after a 43-year practice, and Lynne, a retired pharmacist.

“We both love Ole Miss,” Don Davis said. “We spend a lot of time in Oxford. I credit Ole Miss with my education which allowed me to make enough money and make the wise investment choices needed to be able to give back to the university in a significant way.” With a $1 million gift, the Davises have established two endowments: The Donald S. and Lynne R. Davis Endowment for Athletics will provide support for the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation (OMAF) and the Donald S. and Lynne R. Davis Academic Scholarship Endowment will offer financial assistance to undergraduate students from Meridian. “During this season of giving, we are deeply grateful to the Davises for their incredible generosity,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the OMAF. “I am personally impressed by their all-encompassing loyalty to the university as is evident in their giving record, which supports not only athletics but also academics.”

Dr. Davis, an Iuka, Mississippi native whose professional life was spent in Meridian, said he hopes the scholarship will provide UM tuition support for students from Meridian’s two private schools — Lamar School, the Davis children’s high school alma mater, and Russell Christian Academy. Additionally, he hopes his endowment for athletics will support continual improvements to Ole Miss sports programs.

A member of the Ole Miss Air Force ROTC, Don Davis graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1958 and then entered flight school for three years before returning to Ole Miss to take classes that would prepare him for medical school. At that time, he met Lynne Ruble of West Point, Mississippi, who graduated from Ole Miss in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy.

After Don Davis earned his medical degree in 1966 from the University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson, he and Lynne moved to Meridian to start a practice and a family. The couple has three grown children — Alicia Davis Johnson of New Orleans, Louisiana, Don Davis Jr. of Oxford, Mississippi, and Andy Davis of Meridian, all Ole Miss alumni — and seven grandchildren. “I told them they could go anywhere they wanted to go, but the money is going to Ole Miss,” Davis said, laughing. At Ole Miss, Dr. Davis was active in his fraternity, Sigma Chi, while Lynne Davis was likewise involved with her sorority, Delta Delta Delta. Now, when they’re not enjoying Ole Miss sports or spending time with their grandchildren, they love to travel, having recently completed a trip around the world. Next up is a trip to Rwanda, Africa, to observe mountain gorillas in the wild — an adventure that has been on Lynne Davis’s bucket list for many years.

To learn more about the Vaught Society and how it supports the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at jkcarter@olemiss.edu or call 662-915-7159. To learn more about scholarship endowments, contact Denson Hollis, senior director of major gifts in the Office of Development, at dhollis@olemiss.edu or 662-915-5092.

Renovated Complex Brings Renewed Spirit To Ole Miss Track & Field Program

By | Facility Upgrades, Forward Together

$7.2 Million Complex Completed in September

By Scarlett Fox

The term “blessing in disguise” is one that can be applied to the challenges the Ole Miss track and field program has faced these past two-and-a-half years.

After announcing its closing in April 2014 due to cavities discovered under the track surface, the Ole Miss Track and Field Complex has now reopened, and is entering into a new era. With a new coaching staff that has concluded its first year with record-shattering team and individual performances, there was much to be recognized at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 9 in honor of the $7.2 million renovations to the facility.

“We have, really, a renewed spirit around our track and field program,” said Athletics Director Ross Bjork at the ceremony.

Those are the perfect words to describe the momentum that has been generated by a team returning from a historic year under the direction of head coach Connie Price-Smith, who also led the United States women to a record-setting showing as their head coach at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Beginning in the fall of 2014, the men’s cross country team won its first ever NCAA South Region title, followed by its first two appearances at the NCAA Cross Country Championship in 2014 and 2015. On the women’s side, the team walked away from the 2015 SEC Championship with a fifth-place finish that tied them for the second-best in program history.

If cross country was not a big enough indicator of the upward direction the program was taking, the men’s distance medley team won three straight SEC indoor titles from 2014-16. Last season, Ole Miss tied for its highest SEC men’s indoor finish in school history (third) and the Rebels’ six total indoor All-Americans tied the school record. This was all capped by senior Ryan Walling winning the Cliff Harper trophy for scoring the most points at the conference meet.

It was more of the same during the outdoor season. The men tied for their second-best SEC outdoor finish in school history (fifth) last year. The women earned their second ever top-25 NCAA outdoor team finish (T-22nd) and helped the Rebels walk away with a school-record total of 13 All-Americans combining the men and women.

Since following Price-Smith from Southern Illinois University to Ole Miss, Raven Saunders has led the charge for the women. Along with claiming a title in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, she also won the SEC Commissioner’s trophy for scoring the most points at the outdoor conference meet, broke the all-time NCAA indoor and outdoor records in the shot put and punched her ticket to Rio along with volunteer assistant coach Gwen Berry, who competed in the hammer throw.

“After last season where it was kind of a transition period, everyone was kind of, OK, we’re going to see how it works. But now I feel like all of my teammates, and even myself included, are so much more motivated to be better as athletes,” said Saunders at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Along with a brand new throwing area at the south end of the complex and the addition of a Daktronics videoboard that measures 37 feet, 6 inches by 26 feet, 8 inches, the track itself also has a top-of-the-line surface (Beynon Sports Surfaces 2000 full pour polyurethane running surface with hobart texture) featured at many of the best NCAA programs and Olympic-level tracks around the country.

“I think that it’s done a lot to bring the team together already,” said coordinator of operations Sasha Leeth.

Price-Smith also expressed her excitement, not only about the convenience of the new track, but the ability to host the first Ole Miss home meet since the 2014 spring season. With the first home meet dates set for March 24-25, fans can expect to be able to watch college track and field at its best.

“They haven’t gotten to see a track meet here in a while, so I think it’s going to be exciting,” said Price-Smith. “The teams coming in will be good quality, so I think it’s going to be a great meet.”

Fans can also look forward to a second home meet to be held May 6, just before the SEC Outdoor Championships. It will be a special weekend when the team will honor its seniors for their hard work and dedication to the program.

Athletics Foundation Announces Record-Breaking Year

By | Donor Support, Facility Upgrades, Forward Together

Ole Miss Athletics Foundation Raises $45.6 Million over the Past Fiscal Year

By Adam Kuffner

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation is pleased to announce $45.6 million in cash contributions, a new record, from donors in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016. The annual contributions break the previous high of $35.2 million in cash donations set the previous fiscal year. Cash giving in the two years prior to that was $27.4 million in 2014 and $26.0 million in 2013, bringing the total cash contributed in the last four years to $134.2 million.

The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation is comprised of members who make a donation to support Ole Miss Athletics. Along with the increase in cash donations, the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation has grown as well, now consisting of 17,773 members and counting.

“On behalf of Ole Miss Athletics, including our coaches and our talented student-athletes, I would like to thank Rebel Nation for their generous contributions over the past year that set a new standard in fundraising,” said Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork. “The Ole Miss Family continues to grow, and the support allows us to continue giving Rebels the highest quality student-athlete experience.”
The record-breaking year would not have been possible without several outstanding gifts. The Foundation has expressed its sincere gratitude to C Spire, FedEx Corporation, Dr. Gerald Hollingsworth, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Jordan, the Ole Miss M-Club Alumni Chapter, the Trehern Charitable Foundation, an anonymous member and many others who have made significant contributions.

In November, Dr. Hollingsworth made a $25 million commitment to Ole Miss Athletics composed of $10 million in current year cash and the remaining $15 million deferred, including an $11 million funded trust as part of an estate plan. This total commitment is the single largest gift ever received by the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. The $10 million current year portion of Dr. Hollingsworth’s donation will be used to support the north end zone expansion of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, where the playing field already bears his name.

Comprised of Ole Miss Athletics Foundation membership and priority seating donations, annual giving represented $22.2 million (48.7 percent) of the $45.6 million in cash gifts, an increase of $6.6 million from last year.

The Vaught Society received a major increase in cash donations for Ole Miss Athletics, up $10.2 million from last year for a total of $18.2 million this fiscal year. The Vaught Society started with 29 original charter members in 2010 and currently has 388 members who make pledges of $25,000 or greater over the course of five years. Along with cash donations raised by the Vaught Society, $4.0 million was donated through Forward Together Capital Gift Agreements.

“Once again we are amazed by the remarkable generosity of the Ole Miss Family,” noted Keith Carter, Senior Associate A.D. for Development/Athletics Foundation Executive Director. “We continue to ask our dedicated and passionate supporters each year to provide essential resources in our pursuit of excellence.  This year, just like the ones before, they have answered the call.  On behalf of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, we thank you for helping Ole Miss Athletics compete and win championships at the highest level.”

Leading the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation to another record-breaking year, Carter was named the 2016 National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD) Fundraiser of the Year in the industry.

In addition, the Forward Together campaign has now topped $167.5 million in commitments with $30 million in new gifts pledged in the fiscal year. The Foundation reached the original goal of $150 million for the Forward Together campaign during 2016 and raised the goal to $200 million. With $32.5 million remaining, the new mark is anticipated to be met by June 2017.

As part of the $200 million Forward Together campaign, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is receiving major upgrades for the 2016 season. The north end zone bowl has been enclosed to bring the stadium’s capacity to just over 64,000, a new club in the south end zone has been constructed on field level and the playing field has been transformed to a natural grass surface. New videoboards, a new audio/video system and new lighting are being installed as well. A plaza and letterwinner walk, with a featured bell tower, outside of the north end of the stadium, are planned for finish in late fall. The football practice fields are also undergoing renovations, including a new artificial turf field, among other additions nearing completion.

The track and field complex resurface and renovations will also be completed in the coming days. The Gillom Sports Center began major construction in early summer to include new weight and training rooms, team meeting rooms, playing courts, locker rooms, offices and other team space for softball, soccer, volleyball and rifle teams, with expected completion in spring 2017.

Oxford-University Stadium will begin undergoing renovations this year with the new Trehern Performance Center for the baseball team and a new club area behind home plate. Athletics will also begin work this fall on an indoor tennis facility that will hold six indoor tennis courts.

Ole Miss Athletics is grateful to the many donors, ticket holders and fans that enable our projects for student-athletes to be successful.

For more information on the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation and the Forward Together campaign, please visit www.givetoathletics.com or call the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7159.

Lloyd Family Supports Stadium Expansion With Gift

By | Donor Support, Facility Upgrades, Forward Together
By Bill Dabney

Ole Miss football fans are accustomed to the cacophony of sounds in the Grove on game day – the chatter of classmates reuniting, the laughter of children playing catch, the rousing horns and drums of the Pride of the South, the cheers as Rebels parade along the Walk of Champions – but in the 2017 season and beyond, one sound will be heard over all others: chimes.

“Our hope is that the bell tower can be seen and its chimes heard from one end of campus to the other,” said Bob Lloyd of Jackson, Mississippi. To support the construction of a stately new bell tower in the north end zone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Lloyd, his brothers Ted and Ben, and their late father William B. “Cosmo” Lloyd have committed $1.3 million to the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics.

The tower is expected to be finished by early spring and dedicated during the Rebels’ spring game weekend. At more than 60 feet tall, it will be the focal point when walking from the Grove to Vaught Hemingway’s North End Zone Plaza along the new Gertrude C. Ford Way. The game day Walk of Champions will culminate with players walking through the Lloyd Bell Tower. “On game day, the special tone of the Rebel bell will signal game time — time to take that jovial Grove attitude and bring that energy to the Vaught with a swagger and confidence that says, ‘This is our day and our house!’” said Lloyd, a 1983 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration.

Lloyd presented the bell tower idea to the university in 2010, having been aware of traditions surrounding similar structures at other schools. About a year later, he received a call from Matt Mossberg, a development officer for Ole Miss Athletics, saying the tower would be an outstanding addition to the Vaught’s north end zone expansion project.

“We really like this and are grateful to the Lloyds for helping to bring the idea to fruition,” said Mossberg, adding that the bell tower is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2017 spring game. “The Lloyds want to be part of the fabric of Ole Miss Athletics forever and we believe having this bell tower, which will bear their family name, is an impactful way to accomplish that. It will stand right in the middle of the pedestrian space of the Letter Winner’s Plaza, right in the foot print of the stadium. We can see fans rallying around the tower and hopefully starting a few new traditions in support of the Rebels.”

New traditions could include bathing the tower in red light and ringing the chimes every time the Rebels win a sporting event or having a Hotty Toddy celebrity ring the bell before asking fans the renowned game-launching question, “Are you ready?!”

“This is about creating an experience that gives recruits chill bumps when Ole Miss comes onto the field,” Lloyd said. “Ole Miss needs a variety of factors that give us a unique edge to recruit against other SEC schools.”

Additionally, the Lloyds hope the bell tower will serve as a representative of achievement university-wide. “We would like the bell to ring loud and proud for each and everything positive Ole Miss, such as a new Rhodes Scholar, a women’s volleyball victory, a professor being named best in the SEC, a new recruit commit, alumni being honored – any positive event that Ole Miss wants to celebrate,” said Ted Lloyd of Jackson, a 1976 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration.

“The utilization of the bell tower can be one of those advantages that ingrain Ole Miss into our future students and athletes. It’s intended to be a symbol to rally around — a new beginning that the entire Ole Miss family can love and embrace without regard to race, gender, age or social status,” Bob Lloyd said. “It’s to help facilitate the eternal love for Ole Miss that exists in almost every student who has ever stepped foot on campus.”

The Lloyds, who grew up playing catch in the Grove and still tailgate in the same spot each year, hope their gift to the Forward Together campaign will help Ole Miss Athletics continue to build a powerhouse program. “We hope it will provide one small piece of the puzzle that helps Ole Miss become the Cinderella story of college football and win a national championship again,” Bob Lloyd said. “We believe if you don’t dream and strive for what you really want, you will never achieve the goal.”

It’s what their father would have wanted. “Bob, the driving force behind the bell tower project, suggested naming the Lloyd Family Bell Tower in honor of Cosmo, our dad, whose love, loyalty and dedication to Ole Miss was unmatched and never questioned,” Ted Lloyd said. “Dad always said, ‘If a recruit didn’t feel the love for Ole Miss then best he or she go somewhere else; we want student-athletes who want to be here.’  Cosmo loved and supported the idea of a bell tower from the first mention of it and its purpose.”

A 1974 graduate of the UM School of Business, Ben Lloyd of Oxford, Mississippi, agrees with his brother: “Cos would be very happy and very proud with the bell tower because he loved Ole Miss so much.  And he knew that he instilled his love and passion for his alma mater in his sons. He would be honored that his family could make such an important and permanent contribution to the campus.”

The bell tower will also be dedicated to the memory of Scott Keller Lloyd, Ted Lloyd’s son who was killed at age 16 in a 2008 automobile accident. “There was no doubt, none, that he was a great Rebel fan and would have been a great Ole Miss student and loyal alumnus if not for one tragic mistake,” Ted Lloyd said.

The $150 million Forward Together campaign was launched in 2011 to strengthen Ole Miss Athletics in its continuous commitment to excellence. With the help of 3,425 donors, the ambitious campaign surpassed its original goal in November 2015, raising $155 million. Currently, Forward Together has surpassed $165 million on its way to a new goal of $200 million.

The campaign conceptualized 10 to 14 capital projects, including the gleaming Pavilion at Ole Miss – a $95 million arena that seats approximately 9,500 fans for basketball games, concerts and other events.

The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation recently announced its next phase of projects that will include renovating the Oxford-University Baseball Stadium and building an indoor baseball performance center, as well as upgrading the FedEx Student-Athlete Success Center, Gillom Sports Center, Ole Miss Track and Field Complex, Starnes Athletic Training Center, football practice fields, and a new indoor tennis facility.

To learn more about the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics, contact Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, at jkcarter@olemiss.edu or call 662-915-7159.

Young Alumnus Supports Campaign for Athletic Excellence

By | Donor Support
By Bill Dabney

Aircraft manufacturer Cirrus published a tagline to describe its SR22-model personal prop plane: “Make your life possible.”

At only 29 years old, Will Stroud has done just that.

The University of Mississippi alumnus, a former restaurant owner and now CEO of a Dallas-based investment firm, is a self-made millionaire who recently contributed $125,000 to the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics.

By the way, he also flies the SR22.

“I was bitten by the aviation bug very, very early. My grandfather was a major general in the Marine Corps, an aviator, and I got pretty used to being around airplanes and really fell in love with them,” said Stroud, who flies the plane to watch the Rebels, for business or to simply get out of the city for a weekend of hunting, camping, fishing and hiking with friends. More importantly, though, he often uses the Cirrus to fly cancer patients across the country for specialized treatment or to transport others in need. For several years, he served on the board of Angel Flight, a non-profit organization that arranges air transportation for any legitimate, charitable, medically-related need.

That’s just the way he is. Friends and family say Stroud genuinely cares for people. With an easy smile, he’s instantly engaging, and they credit that quality for the financial success he realized at an age when other recent college graduates are still only a few rungs up the corporate ladder.

“Will can meet someone for the first time and make them feel like they’ve known each other for years,” said John Becknell of Metairie, Louisiana, who pledged Alpha Tau Omega with Stroud their freshman year at Ole Miss and roomed with him for two years. Stroud was best man in Becknell’s wedding last July. “Whether donating his time or money to a charity or simply helping out a friend, Will is by far the most generous person I know.”

“Will treats each person he meets with respect – no matter their age, economic or social status,” said Stroud’s father, Jim of Dallas. “There is something about that. He connects as easily with the sexton at our church as he does when conversing with someone famous.” On a recent return from Australia, for example, Stroud spent about three hours in deep conversation with his seat mate, a former Secretary of the Navy.

Stroud is a young man with mature priorities. While many other young adults enjoy loud music and late nights, Stroud prefers a quiet dinner and a glass of wine with his girlfriend. His desire to quickly establish himself may be the result of a lesson he learned too young: that life is fleeting. When he was 9, his 7-year-old sister, Jennifer, died of a rare form of leukemia; she was his only sibling. “That is a make-you or break-you experience,” Jim Stroud said. “But Will is an over comer. He had some learning differences which made school difficult at times. Like with other kids with learning differences, those struggles bred perseverance and a lot of street smarts.”

Becknell credits Stroud’s success to the work ethic he learned from his parents: “Will comes from an amazing, caring family,” Becknell added. “His mother and father, Lynn and Jim Stroud, instilled a strong work ethic in Will and taught him the importance of giving back to others less fortunate than himself.”

Stroud says his father often told him there are no free lunches. “You know, my dad is extremely, extremely bright and smart, but he started with zero. I mean, he always said if you wanted to find a silver spoon, you needed to go to another neighborhood,” Stroud recalled. “He was a latch-key kid in a military family with divorced parents. There was nothing there but hard work. That’s what it takes. It takes hard work and risk and the experience to measure three times, cut once. You’ve got to be very diligent.”

Stroud’s college roommate and fraternity brother Ricky Bryan of Houston, Texas, has seen this side of his friend many times. “The thing that always baffled me about Will was how he viewed his future after college. He always had a very positive outlook. College was not the end but the beginning of the best years of his life,” Bryan said. “To this day, he is the same way. He sees himself constantly growing and moving up in the world and I think that attitude has served him well. He’s the kind of person who bounces back from failure stronger than he was prior. He’s resilient.”

In the unstable world of investments, resilience is critical. “When I was younger, I had an investment account where I would ride the trends. I pretty consistently lost money because I foolishly thought, ‘This stock is up 20 percent on the year’ and I was not looking at the underlying value of the company. I was just saying, ‘You know, if this goes up 20 percent now, it will go up 40 percent in a year’ and I just couldn’t make it work,” Stroud said. “So I had to go back to square one and say, ‘This is where I think the value is; this is how much I need to make; this is the standard deviation of risk that I am willing to take and if it’s outside of that, then we can’t look at it.”

So, for Stroud at least, success before 30 comes from a little resilience mixed with hard work, a business degree, a personable spirit and a large dose of trial and error. “I have been very blessed and very fortunate to do really well early in life,” he said. “I may not have that ability later, so I want to make a lasting impression on the university that made a lasting impression on me.”

Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, said Stroud’s gift will be used to improve facilities and programs for Rebel teams. “We’re building a program that must continually improve to be competitive and Will’s gift will help us continue on that path,” Carter said. “I am always impressed to see young alumni like Will who want to get involved in shaping the future of Ole Miss Athletics. Our student-athletes will receive the return on this particular investment. Will should feel very proud of that.”

For more information about the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at jkcarter@olemiss.edu, call 662-915-7159 or visit www.givetoathletics.com/forward-together/

Updates Announced For Baseball Renovations

By | Donor Support, Facility Upgrades, Forward Together

Ed and Jan Trehern Make Major Contribution

OXFORD, Miss. – In February 2016, Ole Miss Athletics announced plans for a $13 million baseball project that will enhance the student-athlete experience as well as the gameday atmosphere for Rebel fans. There will be multiple phases to the renovations with the goal for entire project be completed by the start of the 2018 season. The project will include the construction of a team performance center, dugout club and rooftop plaza on the first base side of the stadium.

Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons Architects (CDFL Sports) has been chosen as the architect for the project. This will not be CDFL’s first project on campus as the architectural group has already worked on the expansion of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the lighting of the football practice field as well as the design of the Olivia and Arching Manning Athletics Performance Center.

“Once again, we are happy to partner with CDFL Sports to complete another expansion and renovation project within our athletics complex,” said Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork. “CDFL has done tremendous work at Ole Miss and has helped make our athletic facilities among the best in the country. We are excited with the plans they have in place for the new baseball performance center and upgrades to Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.”

Ole Miss continues to upgrade facilities in order to fulfill the needs of its student-athletes. Members of the Ole Miss baseball team will see this first hand with the construction of a new performance center at O-U Stadium. Behind a generous lead gift by Ed and Jan Trehern, the baseball performance center will feature a new clubhouse, training room, weight room and players’ lounge. The O-U Stadium addition will be built on the first base side of the facility, meaning the Rebels will switch dugouts after the completion of the project.

“The Trehern family and its foundation are very excited to be a part of this new era of facilities for Ole Miss Baseball,” said Ed Trehern. “Ole Miss has become a national pacesetter for facilities and crowds in baseball. The baseball facilities are very good now, but it is time to go to the next level because the competition is not sitting quietly. Baseball has become one of the trademarks for Ole Miss Athletics. We hope our gift will encourage others to support and give what you can to keep Ole Miss at the top.”

Already having the best atmosphere in college baseball, O-U Stadium will see the gameday experience reach new heights for Ole Miss fans. Similar to the field club going in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the courtside club in The Pavilion at Ole Miss, a dugout club will be a new feature to O-U Stadium. The exclusive club will have 330 seats and give fans a look at the Rebels as they leave the clubhouse and head to the field. As part of the dugout club, four rows of box seats will be added behind home plate, thus improving the best seats in the stadium and allowing fans closer access to the action.

As part of the $1.5 million donation by the M-Club towards the Forward Together campaign, a rooftop plaza will be built above the performance center. The plaza will be exclusive to baseball letterwinners, M-Club members and season ticket holders with seats in the newly created area.

Other parts of the project include the extension of the box seats down the third base line, the relocation of the children’s playground with improvements to it as well as the left field terrace. The additional seating throughout the stadium will increase stadium capacity from 10,323 to 10,715.

Fundraising has already begun for the upgrades and renovations. Along with the lead gift by Trehern’s and the commitment from the M-Club, head coach Mike Bianco has already financially contributed to the project.

“On behalf of the Ole Miss Baseball program, we are extremely grateful for the generous contributions by the Trehern family and the M-Club towards the renovations to O-U Stadium and the addition of our own team performance center,” said Bianco. “With the valuable gift from Ed and Jan Trehern, the opportunity to build the best college baseball performance facility in the country has now become a reality.”

“Some great people/players have been involved with Ole Miss Baseball such as our great friend Don Kessinger. Coach Bianco has done and continues to do a great job, and many coaches use Ole Miss as the model program,” added Trehern. “One of our daughters was a Diamond Girl, and we have been very close to the program for a number of years. We are blessed to be able to make another investment in the program and facilities here at Ole Miss. We know we are recruiting the best players in the country and to win these battles we cannot come up short as it relates to facilities.”

To donate towards the Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field project, please visit GiveToAthletics.com or contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation (662-915-7159).

Pearson Stays Committed to Ole Miss

By | Donor Support

Ole Miss is a family. Families are always there for each other, providing support no matter how many miles separate them. A member of the Ole Miss family, Tread Pearson, took that same route. He graduated from Ole Miss, earning two bachelor degrees in 1978 (Journalism & Advertising, Business Administration) and obtaining a Master of Arts (Radio & Television) in 1981. While in school, he was a member of the Ole Miss Marching Band and was a senior staff writer for the Daily Mississippian. When his academic days finished, Pearson stuck around Oxford to serve as the first sports information director for women’s athletics at Ole Miss before later moving to Boston, where he’s lived for the past two decades.

Now, Pearson is back in Oxford. After years away, it only made sense to come back. The Pearson’s have been part of the Ole Miss family for decades. Tread’s father, Thomas Sr., was a member of legendary head football coach John Vaught’s first recruiting class. In 1978, Tread’s senior year, his mother, Diane, was the first woman named to the Ole Miss Athletics Committee.

Tread’s three siblings were Rebels as well. Thomas Jr. and Rodney were on the Ole Miss cross country team during their college days, while Jacklyn was a member of the marching band as a Music in Theory and Composition major. “My family owes much of its success to the life lessons we learned at Ole Miss,” said Pearson. “Our experiences there prepared us for the accomplishments with which we have been blessed and our involvement with the athletic programs gave us some of our most treasured memories.”

Tread and his family are extremely passionate about Ole Miss. They have season tickets for football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, and rarely miss an Olympic sport contest in Oxford. Wanting his life immersed in Ole Miss, Pearson started thinking of ways he could give back to a place that gave so much to him and his family. That’s when the tradition of a family member gave him an idea. “My uncle, Faser Triplett, began a great family tradition of giving to Ole Miss, and it is important to me to be able to continue providing support as much as I can,” mentioned Pearson.

Sticking to his family’s commitment to Ole Miss, Pearson decided to make a six-figure donation to Ole Miss Athletics to enhance the student-athlete experience. The generous gift, the first towards Athletics for Pearson, is one that he believes is a necessity for the future. “It is very important for us to give back and help Ole Miss continue to provide opportunities to deserving student-athletes.  The University is preparing the future of our state and the future of our country, and we are honored to be able to help in any way,” noted Pearson.

The majority of Pearson’s gift will go towards women’s athletics at Ole Miss. He will honor his mother, Diane, with a naming opportunity in the newly renovated Gillom Sports Center expected to be completed by March 2017. The major commitment is also due to his strong confidence in the Ole Miss Athletics administration. “Ross Bjork has provided outstanding leadership for the Ole Miss Athletics Department, and in particular, for women’s athletics,” Pearson said. “His focus on ensuring Ole Miss has well-rounded athletic programs with outstanding facilities, coaches and staff has received nationwide attention.”

Along with his donation, and in conjunction with the School of Accountancy, Pearson and Ole Miss will start the Diane Pearson Opportunity Fund. Named after his mother, the fund will allow others to donate specifically towards women’s athletics at Ole Miss. The fund will serve as an endowment with accounting, and gifts made to athletics will support unique student-athlete development opportunities each year.

Tread’s motivation stems from his mother’s passion and leadership towards both athletics and accounting. “My goal is to honor and continue the work started by my mother  She was a pioneer in ensuring that women had all the tools necessary to fulfill their potential,” Pearson reminisced. “The Diane Pearson Opportunity Fund provides a unique enhancement for Ole Miss. Monies raised from this campaign will be used to prepare female student athletes to achieve success in life.”

If you have any questions or would like to support the fund to benefit women’s athletics, please contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7159.